If you can’t dance with a stranger, then you can’t dance || Acharya Prashant (2016)

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Question: Last night you said before the Anhad session, that the sound is not coming from the dholak, but is coming from somewhere else. But during Anhad, even this thing was interrupting that, you know, that the sound, it is coming from somewhere else. And it was interrupting at that moment.

Acharya Prashant: So, it was interesting, or was it not? “I am dancing, and the sound is coming from somewhere beyond. And so right now there is a connection with the beyond. What is the beyond? From where is it coming? So tempting!”

It’s a poor dholak, lying somewhere.


See, that’s what it is like to go into the facts. This is what it means. Go into the fact of this thing – Anhad. “If it is coming from the dholak, then it is coming just from the dholak. How can I surrender to the dholak?” So, it is decided that I cannot surrender. “If it is not coming from the dholak, then I must go, run, rush, figure out, find out, from where it is coming. At least guess, be interested in.”

Listener 1:  Then I will surrender.

AP: Then, “When am running, finding out, feeling interested, then it is not the moment to surrender. I will surrender little later. Right now am finding out from where the voice is coming.”

So, you say, that Truth is in the facts. The facts will open it up for you. Then you are doomed, because facts are petty like dholak. How can one surrender to the dholak? How can one find Truth in facts? So, “No, no, no. This option is closed. Facts are such petty things and I am aiming for God. When I am aiming at God, then what is the point in paying attention to the spoon, to the dholak?”

When the instruction is that the voice is coming from somewhere, then the instruction means – ‘Your thinking is pointless. So, if you can understand, if you can obey me, then don’t think from where the voice is coming.’ You disobeyed. One likes to peep into restricted areas, does one not? The petulant child, the horny teenager, peeping in washrooms, bedrooms from keyholes. Once it is said, “Do not,” it becomes all the more tempting.

You know the funny part of it, now that you are making me recall, I totally forgot that the voice of the dholak must be such that it appears to be coming from beyond. I was just playing it, playing it with all my might, all my intensity. I was sweating, profusely sweating. In this cold, I was sweating, and I had forgotten all about the sound coming from here or there or beyond or whatever. There was this, the dholak, and there was me. And I had to play it, hit it, bang it, and that’s all that I was doing. I had really no time to think. And yet, what can be the highest product of thought was already available. On at least two occasions, I prevented people from clashing, even while playing the dholak, without letting the steam be interrupted. Just one small push on the shoulder, sufficient. And that does not require thought. The light in this tent was on. I got this closed, sent somebody to get this switched off. all the while playing the dholak. That does not require me to think about the sound.

Deep within us the society, Mama, all of them are sitting. They are all saying, “Don’t trust strangers, baby. Find out who is talking.” You will never find out. “If you are dancing to somebody’s tunes, baby it is prudent that you must know from where the tune is coming. Take care of yourself baby. Your security is so important. Out there, someone malicious is lurking. Don’t dance to strangers’ tunes.”

It is always going to be a strange music.

And if you can’t dance to the tunes of strangers, then you cannot dance.

L2: Can I say something inspirational?

AP: Yes.

L1: I dreamt in parts of my head. But what I was thinking was that, maybe, this kind of thinking has a big difference than the usual things, these are not like the things that I think, but they appear somehow from somewhere. This is an amazing difference. They are also not connected in some way.

AP: A simple test can be applied – ‘Would all this happen after death? Was all this happening before birth? Would all this happen in coma? Would all this happen in Joy? Would any of this happen in Love?’ All of these are equivalents of death, disappearing.

Whenever you feel that what you are experiencing is exotic, otherworldly, then just put it to this test – ‘Will this happen in deep sleep? Will this happen after death?’ You say you have had an encounter with God, ask yourself – ‘Can it happen without the brain?’ It is real only if it does not need the brain. Can it happen if your brain is smashed? Can it happen, even if you are given sleeping pills? Now it is so disappointing, because whatever you conceive as enlightenment or awakening or whatever, can never happen when you are comatose. So, all the lure is gone.

Real enlightenment does not depend on your birth or death. In between, whatever you get is just knowledge. And it is very easy to misconstruct some kind of knowledge as enlightenment. Are you getting it? A Buddha’s enlightenment does not pass away with his body. Now this is mysticism. “Ahh, the Buddha is dead, but the enlightenment is alive?” – Yes and No. “So, the enlightenment is outside the body?” – You just go away. You are not fit to ask questions about the Buddha.

I have received this question. “So, if enlightenment is outside time, it means that it survives even after the death of the Shakyamuni?” – Yes, it does. “So, that means, one can hold enlightenment outside his body, like an apple – this is enlightenment?” I can only let G2 chase you. That is your befitting answer. No other answer do you deserve.

You know G2? My cock, the one with ruffled feathers! He does not like spiritual questions at all.


None of what I am saying is new. Saints after Saints have kept saying the same thing.

“कबीरा सो धन संचिये, जो आगे को होए”

(Kabira so dhan sanchiye, jo aage ko hoye)

Will it survive your death? Kabir is asking you to get those riches which will outlast you. But this has been interpreted to mean that you should have those riches that will serve you in the future. “आगे को होए” (aage ko hoye) ‘आगे’ (aage) instead of meaning the beyond has been interpreted to mean the future. Instead of the beyond, it has been interpreted to mean some other world, maybe a heaven.

Remember Nanak’s story? “Take this pin and give it to me after death.” That’s the real test of whether what you are talking of is real or not. Will it outlive your death? And if it cannot outlive your death, then it is mere mental activity, then it is mere substance collected in the brain cells. And if it is just substance collected in the brain cells, it will die along with the brain cells.

When you meet a so-called holy man, and you guys are going to go to many holy places now (pointing at a group of Europeans in the audience), just apply this test. Whatever you see, whatever you hear, is it coming from the brain cells? Or, can it come from somewhere else? If it is coming from the brain cells then that does not mean that it is abominable. It only means that it is just a product of mind. It may be a very nice product of mind, but it is just a product of mind. Maybe a nice temple, may be a nice sermon. Is the fellow talking from his brain, or is there something about the words that is not coming from the brain? This is what you must figure out. And even if the words are nice and pretty, yet they are just words if they are coming from mental activity.

But be careful. Sometimes what you see is so stupid that it is coming even not from the brain. Sometimes what you see in the name of spirituality, and tomorrow you would be spending your time in the city, sometimes, in fact often, what you see in the name of spirituality is so stupid, that it is coming from some other base, the gall-bladder maybe, the urinary bladder, the testicles.

Just because it does not seem to have any brains in it, kindly do not think that it is Divine. It could just be bovine.

~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: If you can’t dance with a stranger, then you can’t dance

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